Overland Park, KS – A 12-year-old girl who pointed a finger gun at several classmates at Westridge Middle School has been charged with a felony.
The incident occurred during a class discussion on Sept. 18, a source familiar with the details told The Kansas City Star.
Another student asked the girl who she would kill if she could kill five people in their class, and the girl responded by shooting them with a finger pistol, one at a time, before she turned her finger pistol on herself.
The teacher sent the 12 year old to the principal’s office for discipline, and the school resource officer recommended that the girl be arrested, according to The Kansas City Star.
The girl was detained by police and then released into her mother’s custody.
She is due in court on Tuesday to face felony threatening charges, The Kansas City Star reported.
Johnson County charging documents showed prosecutors believe the 12 year old “unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another, in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities …” when she pointed her finger gun at classmates.
Critics have said the arrest and charges are overkill for a finger gun gesture.
“I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand,” the girl’s grandfather, Jon Cavanaugh, told The Kansas City Star.
The girl is now living with Cavanaugh in California.
He said his granddaughter didn’t have access to a real gun and had no desire to hurt anyone, The Kansas City Star reported.
“She was just mouthing off,” Cavanaugh said.
The school was quick to point the finger at the Overland Park Police Department and said they had nothing to do with the child’s arrest, according to The Kansas City Star.
“We don’t do that,” Shawnee Mission School District Spokesman David Smith said. “That is not our job.”
Smith said that pointing a finger pistol likely violated the school district’s policies against intimidation and bullying, The Kansas City Star reported.
“I might not have anything in my hand but I might be so clear that the individual definitely feels threatened,” he explained.
Shawnee Mission defines intimidation as “any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act or threat which is severe, persistent and pervasive enough that it may be expected to: Harm a student or damage a student’s property. Create fear of harm to a student or fear of damage to a student’s property. Interferes with a student’s education or participation in a school-sponsored activity or event. Create an intimidating or threatening educational environment,” according to The Kansas City Star.
The Shawnee Mission district has been on high alert since two students at Hocker Grove Middle School brought guns to school in their backpacks in September, The Kansas City Star reported.
Both boys were charged with misdemeanor juvenile in possession of a firearm, which carries a possible sentence of up one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Their crime of bringing a real gun to school only becomes a felony if they commit the same crime a second time, The Kansas City Star reported.
But pointing a finger gun is a felony because it’s considered “threatening.”
“I’m really worried about my granddaughter’s future,” Cavanaugh told The Kansas City Star.
He said he has been warned that the 12 year old could face up to a year in juvenile detention for the hand gesture.